Today we’ll be looking at Radiata Stories for the PS2 developed by Tri-Ace.
Story- Radiata Stories is a title, like few, that tries to engage the player into a world where all that characters have their own personality, and life. Sure, a lot of games get this right, but few have day and night cycles for nearly two-hundred characters, and this is a PS2 game!
Albeit, given the cartoon-ish style and art, it’s feasible to accomplish such a challenge. The player controls Jack Russel, a fiery young man coming of age, the son of a famous Radiata Knight, and our goofy sword-wielding hero. The game begins with him sleeping in, almost missing his chance to become a Radiata Knight. However, he is lost that chance when Ridley, a female axe-wielding protégé, knocks him out of the standing.
Fortunately thanks to fate, he is granted mercy on behalf of his lineage. He joins the Knights under Ganz Rothchild, whose father was besties with Jack’s father. From this bulky beginning the game then picks up with Jack living in the castle, learning the ways of the knights, his competition- Ridley- and going on a couple of missions with his two teammates. Due to circumstances, as plot usually dictates, Jack, and Ganzs are kicked out of the Radiata Knights, and are forced to go their separate ways.
Jack is now on his own in the city of Radiata, stuck in a guild of sketchy reputation, and without any friends. But our friend Jack is not without his wits, his determination, and his never say die attitude.
The game keeps opening up, as the player runs into the other three factions of the city, meets many people, whom he can recruit, befriend, fight, and work with. The plot thickens when human and non-human (I’m talking elves, dwarves, and orcs) arrangements are breaking down, and people with their own agenda begin causing conflict after conflict until an all-out war breaks out.
Before the war, Jack has a chance meeting with Ridley, who plans to run away. She offers Jack the opportunity to go with her, and the player must make a game changing decision whether to stay or to go. And depending on the choice, the gameplay is completely different.
You’re basically deciding if you want to take sides with the non-humans or the humans. The story plays out drastically different for each side, so two playthroughs are a definite. Jack, Ridley, and Ganz destiny change oh so differently on each side as well. Depending on which side you take some locations are closed off, such as taking the non-human side means never entering Radiata again.
The story ends different, although the location and the final boss do not differ, some other important characters might. I won’t spoil it for you, if you want, find a YouTube-er, or go and find a copy of the game and you’ll be well treated to a worthy RPG story.
Music- The music can be a hit and miss sometimes. My two favorite tracks are the Radiata city and the Dark Elf village track. The former is snazzy, and will get stuck in your head, I promise you. The latter is a chill, autumn-themed, medley that relaxes you, puts you at ease, and really gets you into a comfortable vibe.
I use it to study to personally.
Most of the fighting tracks that play while you’re beating down snakes, evil trees, and tsuchinokos, are quite pleasant. However, some of the other tracks can be forgettable. And at night the music is played calmly. Like the case of the snazzy town song, is the same song, just simplified to a pace and tone that reminds you that people are trying to sleep while you run around the streets. And then there’s certain locations that hardly have any music, and it makes those places forgettable.
Combat- In the combat, you have the situation of the run into an enemy and fight them on a different screen scenario. You have the options of running around this field wherever you like, attacking enemies, locking on, defending, back-stepping, and issuing commands and formation to your three teammates.
Your menu option has team orders, and your inventory, so you can keep your team buffed and healed with the press of the R2 button. Radiata Stories is one of those unique games that lets you go into your equipment screen in the middle of a fight. So, if an axe isn’t working, you can switch to a spear. Or if you have fire resistance, but need earth resistance, you can switch!
You have a special gauge that allows you to use a weapon specific attack, like a flurry of jabs with a spear, and an ultimate attack, which in the case of the spear would be Thousand Spears. Some teammates also have special attacks, and sometimes they’re stronger than your own. The gauge is additionally consumed when you issue healing commands, buff commands, or unique tactics to your comrades.
Optional Content- If Final Fantasy 15 is the king of optional and post-game content (which I feel it is!) Then Radiata Stories is the QUEEN.
Oh. My. Lanta!
The biggest optional content in Radiata Stories is your friend book. This book contains the name and description of every human and non-human you can enlist in your roster. And there are One-Hundred and Fifty characters!
The scope of character recruitment ranges from every member in all four guilds of Radiata, including their leaders, to even former enemy Goblins, non-human leaders, and even your own sister! They have to either be added to your friend list or for some very specific characters, they have to be able to enter your party for fights. Some require talking, some require items, some require other characters to be in your party, and some require you to fight them one-on-one.
Radiata Stories is not merciful my friend. Because it is story-driven, and some places can be blocked off in later points, if you haven’t obtained certain items, or certain people, then you can’t finish until you restart in New Game +.
The problem with that, is since there are two paths, that already means multiple playthroughs. If you miss one or two characters, you could be looking at additional times through the game just to complete that book.
Of course the book alone is not the reason to get all the characters, oh no, because finishing that book only gets you a nice picture, and that’s it. No, if you want better then you’re going to need….
End Game Content- END GAME CONTENT!
Radiata Stories is the QUEEN of END GAME CONTENT also!!!
HEAVENS TO MAGTROID!
Radiate Stories is without a doubt the best RPG to house end game content on the PS2 more than any game, and I’ll stake my completely insignificant reputation on it! Earlier I mentioned New Game +, the whole carries your items and previous friend book over, which is nice.
But loading up that completed file again you notice a new location on the map, which you enter through a save point: The End-Game Dungeon.
No that’s not its name, but that is its purpose.
This dungeon contains increased difficulty and five, Yes, I said FIVE, dungeon bosses. If you were interested in the story, you’ll be colored pink when you find that they are all the elemental dragons! Earth, Fire, Air, and Water, you get the chance to take them on with your best party, for some end-game action, and some increased weapons and armor spread throughout the four pathways leading to them. They are long fights, and the dragons are indeed tough, even with the higher NPC combatants on your side, they will get thrashed if you’re not careful. You can take them on- and out- in any order.
But wait- Did I say there were five? But I only mentioned four dragons. Oh wait, that’s right, there’s a fifth! What? The gold dragon from the legends? Is that it?
But it IS a dragon! (I think…) When you clear the four dragons you can go back to a new pathway that opens to a fifth dragon: The Radian Dragon. And he… well…
He’s awesome that what he is!
Go ahead, look him up, fight him, just go. He’s like Undertale, he’s an experience that I can’t spoil, you need to experience it yourself.
After the fight, if you manage to beat him, you’ve successfully cleared the dungeon.
What do you mean, “That’s it?” Yeah, that’s it, that’s all there is to this dungeon!
What do you mean, “That’s not Queen of RPG material?” It totally is- OH, you misunderstand me! That’s all there is to THIS dungeon…
We’re just getting started…
AFTER you clear that dungeon you are invited to enter ANOTHER dungeon, which is taken straight from Escher himself. The stairs dungeon leads to a boss battle with Cairn Russel. That is father of Jack, Cairn Russel! In this dream-like dungeon you can take on your own father for a hearty and tough battle! He certainly lives up to his reputation, even Jack thinks so.
BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE!
Continue onward through the crazy steps and keep fighting through the dungeon solving its puzzles along the way. Once you are victorious you will encounter…
Oh yeah I forgot, Tri-Ace made this game, they have a habit of plugging their famous characters in their post-game content. If you don’t know what I mean, you will soon.
Valkyrie is a character from her own game, and if you defeat her, she will join your party! She’s one of the best characters to gain, for either story branch you take.
BUT WAIT THERE’S EVEN MORE!
You can travel even farther through some puzzles and enemies to find yet ANOTHER boss battle, a man known as Lezard.
And I have no idea who that is! But I remember it being an easy fight, whichis weird for it being the last dungeon bo-
BUT WHAT CAN YOU BELIEVE IT THERE’S EVEN MORE!
Holy moly will it end?? I’m beginning to think not! Just how many bosses and dungeon rooms are there in this game!?
Fortunately for you guys, I do know, and this is where Tri-Ace shines the brightest. I believe since Star Ocean 3, they developed there two most iconic post-game bosses: Gabriel Celeste, and Ethereal Queen.
These two are, without a doubt, hard. Straight. Up. Hard. Level 99, The best characters, the best weapons, the best armor, will only allow you to stay in these heated fights for a while. But it’s going to take mastery of fighting in Radiata Stories to be victorious. Gabriel Celeste really isn’t difficult, but his over half-time solar flare attack can be painful. Not to mention you start off the battle confused.
BUT it’s nothing compared to the Ethereal Queen. Even at the height of stat perfection this fight will always take a while. Don’t let the cute fairy-like appearance fool you: she has access to a Gears of War-style Hammer of Dawn, and she WILL use it! That attack destroys, and it hits everywhere on the field. The best chance of surviving is watching the reticles appear on the ground, forming your party in the basic Square Link, and running. It saves you having to use tons of HP and Revival items. If you are victorious then you get a sweet item, and the completion of these series of dungeons. No, I’m serious you finally beat it all-
OH WAIT I FORGOT WAIT I CAN’T BELIEVE THERE’S MOOOOOOOORE!!!
Okay I’m done, old joke is dead now, but I’m SERIOUS. If you go back to where you fought Valkyrie, you can one more opponent. He’s not nearly as hard as the last two dungeon bosses, he’s interestingly easier, which I would totally do different if I were Tri-Ace, but I digress.
He is Quasar, the GOLD dragon!
That’s right, we fight the final dragon of yore. It’s almost a shame to fight him because he’s so pretty! And last I checked he didn’t offer a reward, except giving the satisfaction of the player knowing that Jack Russel is stronger than any Radiata Knight in the history of Radiata.
Overall: Radiata Stories was my first experience where a story was entirely different based on one choice. The characters were engaging and delightful, obtaining them became an addiction for me, especially the masters of the guild like Elwen, Nyx, and Kain. The endings were a real shock for me as well, I had hang-ups and satisfaction with both sides, so it was hard for me to decide which one I preferred more. The music was nice, the story was excellent, and the freaking ungodly amount of end-game content had me replaying the game more times than any other RPG, and that’s a lot considering I replayed Tales of the Abyss five times over. Radiata Stories is deserving to be in your shelf of great RPG titles, and so like Golden Sun, I must give it a 5/5.
Thank you for reading!
This week, on the RPG Library, I will examine Golden Sun for the GameBoy Advance, and see if it’s deserving of the title RPG.
Story- The story is of four heroes, Isaac, Garet, Ivan, and Mia, who meet through a rolling set of circumstances that fall around chasing a group bent on activating four large towers referred to as “lighthouses”. Turning on these buildings using orbs called ‘elemental stars’ will yield an effect to the world that isn’t entirely made known in the first game. The main protagonists are under the feeling that the motives of the group they follow are bad, since the first thing they do is activate a trap inside a volcano which secretly holds the elemental stars. Also kidnapping their friend, and their mentor doesn’t help. But the pursuit challenges the main characters to travel the continent of Angara, meeting the folks, towns, and creatures of magnificent and unique qualities. Although Golden Sun doesn’t introduce a new race that changes the face of fantasy and sci-fi, Camelot takes the old tropes of fantasy like griffons, chimeras, manticores, and even tree folk and provides their take and gives us another idea of how they would be if our wilderness were inhabited by a wild stone golem, and the local forest could turn the nearby cities’ peoples into trees! I don’t know about the rest of you, but turning into mythical beasts sounds fun, a tree sounds… meh. Although, I’m not hating on someone who likes that idea, you go fulfill your tree dreams!
Music- For being on the Gameboy Advance system, the music of Golden Sun adds to the atmosphere of the experience. In the mines, you feel the dreary exploration of dank tunnels, the challenge escalated above your current ability, and a sense of anxiousness that pushes you to get out faster. The desert, forest, foreign, and frosting areas come with their own tune that doesn’t get on your nerves, although you grow annoyed by the random battle theme.
Combat- Combat is familiar to veteran RPG players. The turn-by-turn style fighting is fluent, and easy to navigate. The menus have clearly labeled pictures as well as items, powers, summons with quantity and magic consumption recognizable, not to mention small indicators to show the area of affect for each power. Speed determines who moves first, per usual, unless a special item or summon, like a Djinni, will activate before anyone else. The game always seems fair when playing through, if you play smart, use buffs, and level up your characters as you go, then you’ll have a fun time, and you won’t have to reach a point where grinding your levels is necessary. If you want to go through the game just mashing attack, you may encounter trouble when trying to reach the first lighthouse.
Optional Content- There are a few optional locations and a couple games for your enjoyment in Golden Sun. The games I want to talk about can be found in Tolbi, over halfway through the game. Throughout the game, if you’re buying armor, weapons, and items, and searching treasure chests, you’ll receive Game Tickets, and Lucky Medals. Both items you’ll need to participate in the games. The first game is a slot machine. Using 1-5 tickets to line up five pictures will result in receiving anything from rare items and accessories to crappy items and accessories. But the rare accessories are worth risking those tickets for, since they offer some very nice bonuses that rival the best equipment in the game. The Lucky Medal pond has the same reward system, only they offer armor and weapons. This game is fun, since it requires timing and luck. The object is to release a coin and let it roll to the center. It sounds easy until I say that Crash Bandicoot crabs and turtles walk back and forward, back, and forward, without getting sick of it. What’s even more challenging is with each tap of the coin, they move faster, making that little coin’s journey even more wayward than before! But it’s all worth it for some weapons and armor that can help you with the final level, and even Crossbone Isle.
Speaking of which, the two locations are Lunpa and Crossbone Isle. Lunpa is a town where Hammet travels to in the beginning of the game before Ivan joins your party. It becomes obvious that the ruler of the town is evil, and he captures Hammet. You can go there once you’ve obtained a certain item, and rescue Hammet from the clutches of Dodonpa. It also houses some items and summons that help you reach that 100% completion status you might be earning. And the story of course gives you some peace of mind helping Ivan see his master again.
And then there’s Crossbone Isle, the optional dungeon of Golden Sun. This dungeon requires use of every obtainable skill, and your best armor, weapons, summons, and strategy to beat the boss, and even the enemies inside. I’m not going to spoil a lot about it, because experiencing the dungeon is a reward of its own. I will say that the final boss is named Deadbeard. I will also say that if you go and watch Kikoskia, you can watch a master beat this difficult boss at the low level of 20. A quick shout out to him, he’s a great YouTube’er. And he’s enjoyable to listen and watch.
End Game Content- Unfortunately, Golden Sun doesn’t offer… anything in terms of end-game content. Everything it has, you can do before stepping foot in the final town. Yes, you can use the clear game save file in the battle rush mode at the title screen, but that’s it. There is a special thing you can do with GS 1 and 2. You can take you clear game file and transfer it to the second game using a link cable, to have the summons, items, and gear IN the second game! That was the first game I ever experienced doing that, and to me it was freaking awesome! Without it, there was a dungeon in the second game I couldn’t go to unless I had all the summons. Even today I’ve only seen that optional dungeon in screenshots and videos. It may be harder even today to experience that with the lack of cables and ports of the game. But if you can get your hands on that, then you’ll become so OP in the second game it becomes a joke.
END: Overall, Golden Sun I feel is one of those under rated RPG’s that flew under the radar back when the GBA was huge. I feel it is deserving of the title RPG, and deserves a spot on your shelf, and your time. On the RPG scale, I give it a 5/5